Saturday, July 21, 2018
Sports

Ethiopians Hayle, Baysa win Boston Marathon titles

BOSTON — The Ethiopians ran past the Kenyans on their way to the Boston Marathon finish line Monday and nearly swept them off the victory podium.

Lemi Berhanu Hayle won the 120th edition of the men's race, and Atsede Baysa overcame a 37-second deficit on the women's side for Ethiopia's first sweep of the world's most prestigious marathon.

Hayle finished in 2 hours, 12 minutes, 45 seconds to beat defending champion Lelisa Desisa by 47 seconds. Yemane Tsegay was an additional 30 seconds back to round out an all-Ethiopian top three.

"In sports, sometimes that happens," said Desisa, who also won the 2013 race. "It is the performance on the day."

Kenya had dominated the Boston Marathon since the professional era began in 1986, winning the men's race 14 straight times from 1991-2004 and 20 out of 22 before Desisa earned the first of his two victories three years ago.

But the Kenyans have been beset with doping problems. The World Anti-Doping Agency put the country's athletics program on probation after more than 40 athletes tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs since the 2012 Olympics.

Ethiopia claimed its sixth title in the men's race, including three of the last four.

Hayle (HAY-lee), 21, pulled away from Desisa as they crossed over the Massachusetts Turnpike heading into Kenmore Square. He tapped his chest as he ran down Boylston Street, held his arms out to bask in the cheers of the crowd and then, after crossing the finish line, did a celebratory skip-jump.

"Very difficult, Hayle said of his major marathon victory. He has run four smaller marathons since 2014, winning three and finishing second in Dubai in January.

Baysa, 29, trailed by 37 seconds at the 35-kilometer checkpoint before chasing down Tirfi Tsegaye on Beacon Street in Brookline, 2 miles from the finish line. The two-time Chicago Marathon champion won by 44 seconds in 2:29:19.

"Winning the Boston Marathon is very big," Baysa said. "To win the Boston Marathon means that I am the best athlete in a very competitive field, including my teammates."

Joyce Chepkirui was third — the lone Kenyan to medal.

Most of the top Americans, including 2014 winner Meb Keflezighi, skipped the race after running in the U.S. Olympic trials in February. Other countries pick their Olympic teams by committee, and the performances in Boston could help Monday's top finishers earn a ticket to Rio de Janeiro.

Zachary Hine of Dallas was the top U.S. man, finishing 10th. Neely Spence Gracey, of Superior, Colorado, was the first American woman to finish, coming in ninth.

On a clear day with a slight headwind, cool early temperatures warmed to 62 by the time the winners reached the Back Bay.

Defending women's champion Caroline Rotich fell out, dropping away from the leaders at a water station about 5 miles in and walking to the side of the road. No reason was available.

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